The Major Prophets
Isaiah - Daniel

FACTS ON ISAIAH     

Author

   The book was written by Isaiah, whose name means “Yahweh saves.” Critical scholarship denies the
unity of Isaiah and rejects the Isaianic authorship of chapters 40-66, assigning them to an unknown
author or authors living near the close of the Babylonian exile.  The NT quotes the prophet 21 times
and clearly indicates that both sections were written by Isaiah.

Date of Writing

   The superscription records that Isaiah ministered in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and
Hezekiah, a period extending from 739 to 686 B.C.  The book was written sometime after 701 B.C., the
date of Sennacherib’s invasion.

Historical Setting

   The first half of Isaiah (ch. 1-39) is set against an Assyrian background and is principally concerned
with rebuking and condemning the people and leaders of Judah and predicting the overthrow of the
kingdom.  The second half (ch. 40-66) is written from the viewpoint of the Babylonian exile of 586 B.C.  
In these chapters Isaiah addresses prophetically the Jews of the captivity.  Spiritually, Isaiah ministered
during a period of degeneracy and apostasy, especially during the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh.  

Purpose

   Isaiah writes to condemn and to comfort.  He announces inescapable judgment for the world and
promises comfort and deliverance to the righteous remnant.    

Theme

   God must judge sin and apostasy, but He delights in deliverance and redemption.  

Theology

Isaiah reveals the great doctrines of God (41), man (1:3-15), salvation (55) and last things (58-66).  
The book abounds in Messianic prophecies (7, 9,11, 53).

Outline      

I.    Condemnation of Judah and the Nations 1-35
II.   Historical Parenthesis on Hezekiah  36-39
III.  Comfort After Captivity  40-66


FACTS ON JEREMIAH

Author

   The book was authored by the prophet Jeremiah, whose name means “Yahweh establishes.” The
actual writing was done by Jeremiah's secretary (36:4,32) and who may have edited the collection and
added the historical appendix (chap. 52).

Date of Writing

   Jeremiah began his ministry in 627 B.C. and continued until after the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.).  
Since Jeremiah records the release of Jehoiachin in the 37th year of his exile (52:31-34), the book was
probably completed after 560 BC.  

Historical Setting

   Jeremiah ministered in the kingdom of Judah during the reigns of the last five kings of Judah.  
Jeremiah would have witnessed such events as the revival under Josiah, the captivity of Daniel, the
deportation of Jehoiachin and ten thousand Judeans, the siege of Jerusalem, and the burning of the
temple.  Prophets contemporary with Jeremiah include Zephaniah and Habakkuk in Judah, and Ezekiel
and Daniel in Babylon.

Purpose

   The book records the warnings, rebukes, and exhortations of Jeremiah to the unrepentant people of
Judah.  The book is intended to show the exiles the reasons for their captivity and to encourage them
with promises of restoration.  

Theme        

           The theme of Jeremiah is God's judgment on unrepentant Judah for unfaithfulness to God and
His covenant.

Theology

   Jeremiah makes a distinctive contribution to OT theology with his promise of the New Covenant (Jer.
31:31-34). The New Covenant amplifies and confirms the blessing promises of the Abrahamic
Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3).

Arrangement

   Jeremiah begins with his call (1), records many prophecies (1-51), and concludes with an appendix
(52).  Beyond this, the structure and arrangement of the book is greatly debated.


LAMENTATIONS

Author

Although the author is not named, the book has traditionally been attributed to Jeremiah. In matters of
style and phraseology there are numerous and striking similarities between Jeremiah and
Lamentations. The scenes described in the book require an eyewitness, and no other possibility is
known besides Jeremiah.

Date of Writing

Lamentations records Jeremiah's lament over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586
B.C. The book was probably written shortly afterwards, probably no later than 570 B.C.

Historical Setting

The siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (588-586 B.C.) ended with the destruction of the city and
burning of the temple. The citizens, except for the poorest of the land, were exiled to Babylon (2 Kings
25:11-12) and Gedaliah was appointed governor to administer the land under Babylonian authority.
Mizpah, eight miles north of Jerusalem, was selected as the governor's residence. Jeremiah remained
in Judah until Gedaliah's assassination when he was taken by the rebels to Egypt.

Purpose

It was customary in ancient times to commemorate the fall of a great city, and the author of
Lamentations stood in this ancient literary tradition. The sight of a ruined and deserted Jerusalem
compelled him to write his lament over the city. The purpose of Lamentations is to commemorate the
destruction of Jerusalem. The book records how completely Jeremiah's prediction of the destruction of
Jerusalem was fulfilled. Lamentations also presents God's faithfulness and compassion (3:19-39) as a
basis for future hope.  

Theme        

   The theme of Lamentations is the prophet's grief over the destruction of  Jerusalem.

Outline       

   I.  The Lamentable State of the City of Zion  1
   II.  The Divine Source of Zion's Sorrows  2
   III.  The Consolation in God's Faithfulness  3
   IV.  The Horrors of Zion's Calamity  4
   V.  The Lament and Petition for Restoration  5        


FACTS ON EZEKIEL

Author

   The book was authored by the prophet Ezekiel, whose name means “God strengthens.”  Ezekiel
was a contemporary of Daniel in Babylon and Jeremiah who prophesied in Jerusalem.

Date of Writing

Ezekiel began his ministry in the fifth year of Jehoiachin's exile or 593 B.C.  His last dated prophecy
was in 570 B.C.  

Historical Setting

   Ezekiel, the son of a Zadokite priest, was deported to Babylon with king Jehoachin and ten thousand
other captives in 597 B.C.  He lived in Babylonia among a colony of Jews at a place called Tel-abib,
located 50 miles south of Babylon. From 593 to 586 B.C. Ezekiel's ministry consisted primarily of
preaching judgment against Judah.  After the fall of Jerusalem, he ministered consolation, predicting
the future restoration of the nation with its temple.  

Purpose

   The prophecy of Ezekiel was intended to show that Jerusalem's destruction was on account of the
sins of the nation.  This discipline was designed to bring them to the knowledge that Yahweh is God (6:
7,10,13).  The prophecy also intended to comfort the people through God's promise of future
restoration and blessing.               

Theme        

   The theme of Ezekiel is the destruction and future restoration of Jerusalem and the temple.  

Theology

   Ezekiel makes a distinctive contribution to theology by emphasizing the glory of Yahweh.  The vision
which introduces Ezekiel's call left him with an abiding sense of God's glory (1:28, 3:23, 8:4, 10:4, 11:
22).

Outline  
 
   I.  God's Glory and Man's Rebellion  1-8
   II.  Departed Glory  9-39
   III.  Returned Glory  40-48


FACTS ON DANIEL

Author

   Internal evidence indicates that the author of the book is Daniel whose name means “God is my
judge.”  The predictive elements in the book have led some scholars, following the lead of Porphyry,
the 3rd century pagan philosopher, to suggest that the book was written by someone who simply used
Daniel's name. The Danielic authorship of the book is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 24:15.

Date of Writing

   The date of writing is bound up with the question of authorship.  If Danielic authorship is accepted,
the book was probably completed by 530 B.C.

Historical Setting

   Daniel was taken into captivity in 605  B.C.  This was the first of three deportations to Babylon.  
Daniel served as a court prophet under Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Cyrus [Darius].  He was a
contemporary of Ezekiel who ministered to the colony of exiles.  

Purpose

   The book of Daniel was designed to encourage the Jews in Babylon who were spiritually weary from
the exile and needed to be reminded that God was in control of their destiny.  The book also provided
the example of Daniel and his friends who remained faithful to God in a pagan culture and
environment.  

Theme

The theme of Daniel is the sovereignty of God over the affairs of the nations.  The key verse is Daniel
4:17.  

Theology

   The book of Daniel teaches a great deal about God's dealings with Israel.  Daniel reveals that God
has not abandoned the people of Israel and has a future for the nation.

Outline    

I.  The Preparation of Daniel  1
II.  The Service of Daniel  2-6
III.  The Visions of Daniel  7-12